1. I finished my required reading of Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period: 330 B.C.-A.D. 400. The following is from Ronald Hock’s essay, “The Rhetoric of Romance”:
…the consequence of mastering the three branches of oratory is not merely becoming a trained rhetor or even a sophist, but the way of becoming human, as it is only through skill in composing and presenting all three kinds of speeches that a person can give full expression to his soul and hence can be human in the fullest sense of the word. Given the amount and centrality of speeches in the romances, it therefore becomes clear that their characters…are not only rhetorically adept but human in terms of their rhetorical culture: ready and able to speak eloquently in whatever situation may arise.
I feel most human when I can express myself, and people listen to me. Unfortunately, I feel that others base my humanity on whether or not I talk in certain situations—if I’m quiet (which I tend to be), then I must not be human. But I am human, since I have a self, feelings, thoughts, and reactions.
2. I read more of G.A. Kennedy’s New History of Classical Rhetoric. Here are three things that I learned:
—Greeks required people to defend themselves in court, whereas the Romans allowed defendants to be represented by patrons, who were not paid for their services.
—Cicero tended to speak at the top of his voice, with tension in his entire body, but that kind of fervency was ruining his health. And so he learned from the Greeks how to control his voice and repress the “excesses of his style”.
That reminds me of Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign. He was speaking a lot, and he lost his voice. My speech teacher said this was because Clinton spoke relying primarily on his vocal cords; for her, he should speak from his diaphram.
—The Romans didn’t write their speeches and memorize them; what we have of their written speeches was composed after their delivery. But the Romans did use mnemotic devices to recall things while they were speaking. They divided what they needed to remember into scenes, and associated them with pictures.
3. At church this morning, I sang a beautiful hymn, called The Summons. The following stanza is my favorite:
Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
I like the ideas of loving the not-so-pretty me that I hide, and of not being afraid. The third line teaches me that, even if I have difficulty loving people and having faith, whatever faith I do have can inspire me to make the world a better place, in some capacity.
4. Today is Father’s Day! A few days ago, I watched the 1985 two-part Family Ties episode, “Remembrances of Things Past”. Steven had always argued with his dad, who was cheap and ultra-conservative. When Steven’s dad, Jake, wouldn’t get his family a TV, Steven told his brother, Rob, “He’s so cheap! I wish he wasn’t my father.” When Steven saw his dad’s hurt face, he apologized, and he cried about saying that years later.
But Steven’s dad did get his family a TV, and it was touching to see Steven take a puff out of his father’s pipe while watching Milton Berle, right before he handed the pipe to his father, who put his arm around him.
In another flashback, Steven’s father, mother, and brother are dressed up, preparing to see Jake’s mom on a Sunday. Steven comes into the living room with a T-shirt and jeans. He refuses to go. He says that he worked all week, that he wants to take it easy on Sunday, and that he’ll see grandma the next day. Jake asks him, “Will you say no to your own father?” But, in the end, he doesn’t spank Steven. He just says, “Are you from another planet or somethin’?”
Happy Father’s Day!